Al-Talaba SC

Al-Talaba SC
Full name Al-Talaba Sport Club
Nickname(s) Al-Aneeq (The Elegant)
Founded 1969 (1969) as Al-Jameaa
1977 (1977) as Al-Talaba
Ground Al-Talaba Stadium, Baghdad, Iraq
Ground Capacity 8,000[1]
Owner Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research
President Alaa Kadhim
Manager Ayoub Odisho
League Iraqi Premier League
2015–16 Iraqi Premier League, 3rd

Al-Talaba Sport Club (Students Sport Club, Arabic: نادي الطلبة الرياضي) is an Iraqi sports club based in Al-Rusafa, Baghdad. Its football team competes in the Iraqi Premier League, the top flight of Iraqi football. Founded as Al-Jameaa Football Club in 1969, the club changed its name to Al-Talaba in 1977. The club's home stadium is Al-Talaba Stadium.

Al-Talaba have won five league titles, with the most recent being in the 2001–02 season. They also achieved two FA Cups and three Umm Al-Ma'arik Cups, one of the four clubs that won it the most of any Iraqi club. The club also became the runners-up of the 1995 Asian Cup Winners' Cup. Al-Talaba have won two international club competitions: the 1984 Stafford Cup and the 2005 Damascus International Championship.

Since it was first established, Al-Jameaa was owned by the University of Baghdad. In 1977, the club changed its name and became owned by the National Union of Iraqi Students. Since 1993, the owner of the club became the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research and the minister is the honorary president of the club.[2]


Early years (1964–1980)

In 1964, the University of Baghdad formed a football club made of the best football-playing students in the university, under the name of Montakhab Jameaat Baghdad, to compete in the Universities of Iraq League. The first president of the club was Hassan Kanah and the first technical staff consisted of the manager, Ghani Askar, and his two assistants, Moayad Al-Badri and Sami Al-Saffar. The first competition that the team played in was the 1964 Republic Championship.[3]

The sports club was founded on 17 December 1969 under the name of Al-Jameaa, which translates to The University, to represent the University of Baghdad in official Iraqi competitions. By a special resolution from the Iraq Football Association, the team's first participation was in Iraq Division One (second level) without needing to compete in either the second or third divisions. In their first season, 1970–71, the team under the management of Thamir Muhsin finished top of Division One and were promoted to the League of the Institutes. However, in the 1971–72 League of the Institutes season, they finished in last place and were relegated back to Division One.[4]

After three seasons, Muhsin left the club and Jamal Salih became the new manager, leading the team to promotion in the 1974–75 season. He introduced some players from Montakhab Jameaat Baghdad, who won the 1975 Universities League, to strengthen the team.[3][5] After finishing eighth in 1976, Al-Talaba were the runners-up in the 1976–77 season, five points behind the league leaders, Al-Zawra'a.[6] Halfway through the 1977–78 season, on 27 December 1977, the club changed its name from Al-Jameaa to Al-Talaba, which translates to The Students.[7] They finished eighth in that season.[8]

In 1978, Jamal Salih was sacked by the board and was replaced with Abdul Wahab Abdul Qadir, who led the team through the 1978–79 season, their first as Al-Talaba, in which they finished third in the league behind Al-Shorta and Al-Zawra'a. For the first time, an Al-Talaba player was among the league's top three goalscorers with Hussein Saeed scoring six goals and Haris Mohammed scoring five.[9] In 1979, Al-Talaba participated in the University Games, but failed to win the competition.[10]

In the 1979–80 Iraqi National League, under the management of Khalaf Hassan, Al-Talaba finished in third place again with 27 points. Two of their most significant wins that season were beating the eventual league champions, Al-Shorta, 2–0 in the second round of matches on 26 September 1979 and beating Al-Tayaran 1–0 in the 20th round on 24 April 1980. In the 1979–80 Iraq FA Cup, Al-Talaba reached the final for the first time but they were defeated on 8 February 1980 by Al-Jaish 4–2 on penalties after drawing 1–1.[11]

Golden years (1980–1986)

Al-Talaba squad in the 1980–81 season

Under the management of Ammo Baba, known as the "Sheikh of Coaches", Al-Talaba won their first Premier League title in the 1980–81 season (while it was known as the National League). They finished the season as the league leaders with 17 points and had the goal difference of +14, the same amount of points and goal difference as Al-Shorta, but Al-Talaba were awarded the title on number of wins as they eight wins and Al-Shorta had six. Hussein Saeed was the top goalscorer of the league with eleven goals.[12]

Before the last round of matches, Al-Talaba had 17 points and Al-Shorta had 15. Al-Talaba winning in the last round and Al-Shorta losing or drawing would secure the title for Al-Talaba but, in the last match, they lost 1–2 against Al-Tayaran and Al-Shorta won 3–0 against Al-Zawra'a to create a tie on points and goal difference, Al-Shorta had scored more goals than Al-Talaba and therefore were expected to be crowned champions, but the Iraq FA ruled that the greater number of wins should take precedence and declared Al-Talaba as champions. This was a controversial decision at the time as it was the first time such a phenomenon had happened in Iraqi football.[13]

After achieving their first league title, Al-Talaba succeeded in winning it again in the 1981–82 season under Jamal Salih in his second term as team manager. They finished the season as the league leaders with 34 points, two points ahead of second-placed Al-Tayaran. Hussein Saeed was the second top goalscorer with eleven goals behind Al-Zawra'a's Thamir Yousif, who scored fourteen.[14]

In the 1982–83 season, Akram Salman was appointed as the team's new manager. Al-Talaba started the season with confidence having won the league in the last two seasons, but finished in second place, only one point behind the league leaders, Salahaddin.[15] Salahaddin were undefeated in the league while Al-Talaba had a single loss, by 2–0 loss to Al-Sinaa in the second round of matches. The championship was decided in the last match of the season when Al-Talaba met Salahaddin with only one point between them, so Salahaddin needed a win or a draw to secure the title. Al-Talaba scored first and dominated the match until, in the last thirty minutes, Salahaddin managed to equalise. The score remained 1–1, which won Salahaddin the championship for the first time in their history.[16][17] Hussein Saeed was the top goalscorer with 17 goals, eight goals ahead of another Al-Talaba player, Rahim Hameed.[15]

Al-Talaba again finished second in the 1983–84, with 36 points, three behind league leaders, Al-Jaish.[18] In 1984, Al-Talaba won its first international club competition, the 1984 Stafford Cup, winning four games and drawing one out of the five games they played in the tournament, which was hosted in Bangalore, India.[19]

The 1984–85 Iraqi National League was abandoned halfway through due to a perceived decline in public interest, described as becoming "non-existent", after the performances of the Iraq national football team in the 1986 FIFA World Cup qualification (AFC) and winning the 1985 Arab Nations Cup and the 1985 Pan Arab Games.[20] Al-Talaba were in third place with 21 points before the stoppage.[20] They then participated in the Al-Rasheed Cup which was set up by Al-Rasheed after the abandonment of the league. The Al-Rasheed Cup contained twelve of the fourteen top division clubs as well as four lower division clubs. Al-Talaba reached the quarterfinals of the tournament but were knocked out by the eventual winners Al-Rasheed.[21]

After Al-Rasheed was promoted to the top division, most of Iraq's national team players signed for them, which made it difficult for the other teams to compete. Even so, in the 1985–86 Iraqi National League and under the management of Yahya Alwan, Al-Talaba won their third league title against all expectations. They finished the season with 25 points, two points ahead of the favourites Al-Rasheed.[22] On 27 December 1985, one of the most important matches of the season, which could have decided the championship, was played between Al-Talaba and Al-Rasheed in front of 50,000 spectators at the Al-Shaab Stadium.[23] The match ended in a 1–0 win for Al-Talaba with the goal being from a penalty taken by Hussein Saeed in the 63rd minute.[24] Saeed was the season's joint top goalscorer along with Ahmed Radhi and Rahim Hameed.[22] Al-Talaba participated in the 1986 Asian Club Championship after 14 years of stoppage, where they reached the final round but finished last in the table with a single point.[25] Al-Talaba also participated in the Saddam International Tournament in 1986, hosted in Baghdad, but finished third in their group and failed to reach the semi-finals.[26] By winning the league, Al-Talaba qualified for the 1986 Al-Muthabara Cup but were defeated 2–1 by Al-Rasheed.[27]

Ups and downs (1986–1992)

Due to managerial changes and instability, the 1986–87 Iraqi National League ended with Al-Talaba in sixth place, having totaled 49 points, under the consecutive management of Ahmed Subhi, Yahya Alwan and Jamal Salih.[28] The season after, Al-Talaba under the management of Yousif Abdul-Ameer finished in eighth place with only 30 points. This was their worst National League performance since 1975–76.[29] That season, they also participated in the Al-Nasr Al-Adheem Cup (a tournament for the four Popular Teams of Baghdad) but failed to win the tournament.

Al-Talaba returned to winning ways under the management of Jamal Ali in the 1988–89 season, which was played in a different format to previous seasons. They finished fourth in the Baghdad Group, just ahead of Al-Shorta, to qualify for the final tournament, where they finished second in Group 1, behind Al-Zawraa, to qualify for the semi-finals. In the semi-finals, Al-Talaba defeated Al-Tayaran 6–5 on penalties after a 1–1 draw.[30] In the final, Al-Talaba faced their rivals, Al-Rasheed, at the Al-Shaab Stadium. The match ended 1–1 at full time with their goal scored by Ali Hussein.[31] It went to penalties where Hussein Saeed missed his penalty and enabled Al-Rasheed to win 5–4.[32] That season, Al-Talaba also finished as runners-up in the Al-Intisar Cup, behind Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya.[33]

In the 1989–90 Iraqi National League, which returned to the normal league format, Al-Talaba finished in sixth place with 31 points, having won twelve matches, drawn seven and lost seven. In the cup, they reached the fifth round when they won at home to Al-Sulaikh 1–0 and lost 3–1 away.[34] This was Hussein Saeed's final season with Al-Talaba before he retired. In the next season, under the management of the club's first and only foreign coach, Eddie Firmani, and Yahya Alwan, they finished second with 41 points.[35]

In the 1991–92 season, Al-Talaba finished in fourth place with 55 points.[36] The vice-president of Al-Talaba, Salim Rasheed, organised a competition called the Umm Al-Ma'arik Cup in which only the top six teams in the league could participate with all the matches being played at the Al-Shaab Stadium. Al-Talaba won their first match against Al-Shorta 1–0 and lost their second match against Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya 1–0, qualifying them for the semi-finals where they lost to Al-Zawra'a 1–0 after an early goal by Mohammed Jassim Mahdi. In the third-place match, Al-Talaba faced Al-Karkh whom they defeated 4–3 on penalties after a 2–2 draw. The 1991 Umm Al-Ma'arik Cup ended with Al-Zawra'a as winners.[37]

Stability and Asian prominence (1992–2001)

1992 Umm Al-Ma'arik Cup Final starting lineup

During the longest season in Iraqi football, the 1992–93 season, when every club played 69 matches, Al-Talaba had Yahya Alwan as their manager in the first stage of the league, in which they won 14 matches, drawn seven and lost two, 1–0 against Kirkuk and the same score against Samarra. They completed the stage in third place with 35 points.[38] Before the start of the second stage, Al-Talaba signed Ayoub Odisho as their new manager, and he led them through the second stage to have exactly the same statistics as the first one, finishing with 70 points and in second place. In the third stage, the team won 18 matches, drew four and lost only once against Al-Khutoot. After 69 matches, Al-Talaba finished top of the league with 110 points, having scored 130 goals and conceded 34.[38][39] In the 1992 Umm Al-Ma'arik Cup which was organised by the Iraq FA, Al-Talaba finished the group stage as the Group Two leaders with four points.[39] In the semi-finals, they had to face Al-Zawra'a in a match which was considered a replay of the 1991 semi-final which Al-Zawra'a won 1–0.[37] In this match, Al-Talaba won 3–2 with a golden goal in the 100th minute during extra time. In the final against Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya, the match ended in a 0–0 draw which led to extra time when Alaa Kadhim scored the winning goal in the 104th minute.[40] In the 1992–93 Iraq FA Cup, Al-Talaba reached the final after defeating Haifa, Salahaddin, Salam and Samarra. In the final, they lost to Al-Zawra'a 2–1.[39]

After almost achieving a treble in the 1992–93 season, Al-Talaba were managed by Hussein Saeed in the first half of the 1993–94 season and Ayoub Odisho in the second; they finished in third place with 75 points. In the 1993 Umm Al-Ma'arik Cup, they came second in the Group One table behind Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya. In the semi-finals, Al-Talaba met Al-Zawra'a for the third time in a row and won 3–1.[41] In the final, they faced Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya for the second time and defeated them 2–1 at the Al-Shaab Stadium, winning their second successive Umm Al-Ma'arik Cup under the management of Saeed.[42] In the 1993–94 Iraq FA Cup, Al-Talaba again faced Al-Zawra'a in the final but lost by the same score as in the previous season, 2–1.[43] In the 1994–95 Iraqi National League, Al-Talaba finished fourth with 105 points, two points behind Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya in second place and Najaf in third. In the last round, Al-Talaba faced Al-Zawra'a needing a win to finish second, but they lost 2–1. In the fourth edition of the Umm Al-Ma'arik Cup, Al-Talaba reached the final against Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya but lost 4–3 on penalties after a 0–0 draw.[44]

In the 1995–96 season, Al-Talaba finished in sixth place with 31 points, having won eight matches, drawn seven and lost seven. They reached the final of the 1995 Umm Al-Ma'arik Cup, coming up against Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya for the fourth time in a row in this competition, and Al-Talaba won with a single goal scored by Abdul-Wahab Abu Al-Hail, achieving their third Umm Al-Ma'arik Cup success.[45] After Al-Zawra'a achieved a double in the 1993–94 season, the Iraq FA chose the FA Cup runners-up, Al-Talaba, as Iraq's representative in the 1995 Asian Cup Winners' Cup. Under the management of Ayoub Odisho, they defeated Al-Gharafa in the first leg in Doha 5–3 and lost in the second leg 1–0 at the Al-Shaab Stadium.[46] In the second round, they came up against Yangiyer and lost 2–1 in Tashkent before they turned it around to win 2–0 in Baghdad with goals from Muhannad Mohammed and Qahtan Chathir.[47] In the quarter-finals, Al-Talaba won their first leg against Bahman in Tehran 1–0 with a goal by Sabah Jeayer. At the Al-Shaab Stadium, Bahman won 1–0 for a 1–1 draw on aggregate. The match went to a golden goal decider which was scored by Chathir. Al-Talaba had now qualified for the semi-finals where they were drawn to meet Kazma SC of Kuwait but Kazma withdrew from the tournament, refusing to play against Al-Talaba because of political tensions between Iraq and other Persian Gulf countries, including Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, in the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War. The AFC directed Al-Talaba to play against Al-Riyadh of Saudi-Arabia but they too withdrew for the same reason, and that meant Al-Talaba had a walkover through the semi-finals.[48] In the final, Al-Talaba faced Bellmare Hiratsuka in Kanagawa where they were beaten 2–1 after the winning goal was scored in the 81st minute by Hidetoshi Nakata.[47]

In 1996, the league was renamed to the Iraqi Premier League, and Al-Talaba finished third in the 1996–97 Iraqi Premier League, winning 17 matches, drawing nine and losing four. In August 1996, they participated in the second edition of the Al-Nasr Al-Adheem Cup, but again they did not win the tournament, losing 3–1 to eventual winners Al-Shorta. They reached the round of 16 in the 1996–97 Iraq FA Cup and didn't get past the group stage in the 1996 Umm Al-Ma'arik Cup.[49] Under the management of Ayoub Odisho, in the 1997–98 season, Al-Talaba finished in fifth place with 61 points, one point behind fourth placed Najaf FC. In the 1997 Umm Al-Ma'arik Cup, they reached the semi-finals but were defeated by Najaf 3–1 on penalties. In the third place match against Al-Zawra'a, Al-Talaba were beaten 7–0 which is the most goals ever conceded in a match by Al-Talaba.[50]

In the 1998–99 season, now under the management of Akram Salman, Al-Talaba finished in second place, only one point behind the league leaders, Al-Zawra'a, with 75 points. Had Al-Talaba won their final match of the league against Al-Naft, they would have won the league, but they only managed a goalless draw.[51] In the 1998–99 Iraq FA Cup, they reached the final after beating Al-Shorta in the semi-finals. They were defeated by Al-Zawra'a in the final 1–0. Because of Al-Zawra'a achieving the double, the 1999 Al-Muthabara Cup was played between Al-Zawra'a and the league and cup runners-up, Al-Talaba, where they were defeated for the third time that season by Al-Zawra'a, who won 5–4 on penalties after a 2–2 draw. In the 1998 Umm Al-Ma'arik Cup, Al-Talaba reached the semi-finals where they were beaten by Al-Naft. In the third-place match, Al-Talaba defeated Al-Mina'a 3–1.[52] In the 1998–99 Asian Cup Winners' Cup, they managed to reach the semi-finals where they lost to Al-Ittihad and they then lost the third-place play-off to Kashima Antlers. Al-Talaba finished fourth in the 1999–2000 season with 100 points.[53] They also finished in the same position in the 2000–01 season with 60 points.[54] They finished in fourth place in the 1999 Umm Al-Ma'arik Cup after a 3–0 loss against Al-Karkh in the third-place play-off.[53] They qualified for the 2000–01 Asian Cup Winners' Cup but were knocked out in the first round by Al-Sadd on away goals. In addition, they reached the final of the 2000 Al-Quds International Championship, but lost to Al-Zawra'a by 4–3 on penalties after a 1–1 draw.[55]

Thair Ahmed era (2001–2007)

Al-Talaba participated in the 2001 Al-Wehdat Arabian Championship before the start of the 2001–02 season; they played four games, winning one, drawing two and losing one, finishing third in the tournament.[56] After eight years without winning the league and six years without any trophy, Thair Ahmed led Al-Talaba to the 2001–02 championship with 91 points from 29 wins, four draws and five losses. They started the season by defeating Kirkuk FC 8–0 at Al Karkh Stadium, which is one of the biggest wins by Al-Talaba, and ended it with a 6–0 win over Duhok at Al-Shaab Stadium. They reached the final of the 2001–02 Umm Al-Ma'arik Cup, after defeating Al-Karkh 1–0 in the semi-finals, against Al-Shorta where they lost with a single goal after extra time.[57] Younis Mahmoud was the top goalscorer of the tournament.[58] Al-Talaba also won their first-ever Iraq FA Cup that season, after meeting Al-Shorta again in the final and defeating them with Qusay Hashim's late 85th-minute goal. Al-Talaba also won the 2001 Baghdad Challenge Cup by defeating Al-Zawra'a 2–1 and won the 2002 Al-Muthabara Cup against the league runners-up, Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya, 2–1 after extra time.[57]

Al-Talaba finished as runners-up in the 2002–03 season, finishing two points behind champions Al-Shorta. In the 2002–03 Umm Al-Ma'arik Cup, they reached the final but were defeated 1–0 by Al-Shorta. Al-Talaba's Ahmad Salah was named the best player of the tournament. They retained the Iraq FA Cup by defeating Al-Mina'a 1–0 with Alaa Kadhim's goal in the closing minutes and then defeating Al-Shorta in the final 1–0 at the Franso Hariri Stadium with Ahmad Salah's goal in the 26th minute.[59]

In the wake of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, all of Al-Talaba's matches in the 2003–04 season were postponed and then cancelled, except two games which they won against Al-Sinaa before the league was abandoned for the season. Al-Talaba were the runners-up of the 2003 Baghdad Championship, defeating Al-Shorta 2–1 in the semi-finals and losing to Al-Zawra'a 5–4 on penalties after a 2–2 draw in the final, a match that saw three red cards in total.[60] In the 2002–03 AFC Champions League, Al-Talaba finished third in Group D with three points from three games after one win and two losses.[61]

Al-Talaba participated in the 2003–04 Arab Champions League, reaching the proper group stage where they finished in third place with three points.[62] Before the start of the 2004–05 season, Al-Talaba participated in the 2004 Damascus International Championship. They played three games in the tournament, winning two and losing one, being knocked out in the group stage.[63] They also participated in the 2004 Tishreen Cup, one week after they were knocked out of the Damascus International Championship. In the Tishreen Cup, they finished top of their group to qualify for the semi-finals. They defeated Tishreen SC 1–0 to reach the final, which they lost by 3–2 to fellow Iraqi club Al-Zawra'a.[64] In the 2004–05 Iraqi Premier League, Al-Talaba finished the first phase as leaders of Group Three with 28 points, having won eight matches, drawn four and lost four. They also became leaders of Group Two in the second phase with eight points, ahead of Al-Naft who had seven points, after winning two matches and drawing two. In the semi-finals, Al-Talaba came up against Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya; they were beaten in the first leg 1–0 and drew the second leg 2–2. Al-Talaba won the third-place play-off against Al-Zawra'a 4–2 on penalties after a 1–1 draw.[65]

Al-Talaba maintained their performance in the 2005–06 Iraqi Premier League by finishing the first phase as the leaders of Group Four with 24 points from seven wins, three draws and two losses. In the second phase, they finished in second place with seven points behind Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya, who had the same number of points but a better goal difference of +4 against Al-Talaba's +1. In the last match of the second phase, Al-Talaba faced Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya with a chance to retain the league leadership, but they lost 3–1.[66] From 2–9 September 2005, Al-Talaba participated in the 2005 Damascus International Championship, reaching the final against fellow Iraqi club Al-Zawra'a. Al-Talaba won 5–4 on penalties.[67] In the 2005–06 Arab Champions League, Al-Talaba won their first round tie against Al-Shabab by 3–1 in the first leg and 4–1 in the second leg. They faced Al-Qadisiyah in the second round and were defeated 1–0 in the first leg and 2–1 in the second leg to be eliminated the competition.[68]

On 30 November 2006, the club's president, Hadeeb Majhoul, was kidnapped by an unknown terrorist group in Baghdad and, after three days, his body was found in the morgue.[69] The administrative board elected the team's striker at the time, Alaa Kadhim, as the new interim president until the club's elections in which he won with 93 votes out of 97 existing on 15 March 2007.[70] Alaa Khadim was the club's player-president through 2006–07. Aged 35 at the end of the season, he retired from playing in order to focus on administrating the club.[71]

Before the start of the 2006–07 season, Al-Talaba participated in the 2006 Shabab Al-Ordon Arab Championship, a tournament organised by Shabab Al-Ordon Club. Al-Talaba played three matches in the tournament and drew all three of them, being knocked out in the group stage.[72] In the 2006–07 Iraqi Premier League, Al-Talaba finished the first phase in second place with 13 points, behind Al-Zawra'a with 14 points, with three wins, four draws, and one loss. Al-Talaba managed to finish second in the elite stage with eight points from two wins, two draws and one loss, just ahead of Karbalaa with seven points. In the semi-finals, Al-Talaba lost to Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya 2–0 and then lost 2–1 to Najaf FC in the third-place play-off.[73]

Instability and crisis (2007–2013)

Before the start of the 2007–08 season, Al-Talaba participated in the 2007 Press Club Championship, hosted in Syria. Al-Talaba drew both of their group stage matches, finishing second in their group to qualify for the semi-finals. In the semi-final, they lost 3–1 against Nawair SC and were knocked out.[74] Al-Talaba considered withdrawing from the 2007–08 Iraqi Premier League due to a financial crisis that led to their players not being paid all their salaries on time,[75] but eventually decided not to withdraw. Under the management of Karim Saddam, Nabil Zaki and Karim Salman, Al-Talaba finished in fifth place in the first phase of the league with 36 points, having won nine matches, drew nine, and lost four. They played poorly in the second phase, ending the phase in third place in their group with seven points with only one win, four draws, and three losses.[76] They were knocked out in the round of 32 in the 2007–08 Arab Champions League, losing 4–0 on aggregate to USM Alger. In the 2008–09 Iraqi Premier League, with Abdul Ghani Shahad as Al-Talaba's manager, they finished in third place in their group with 47 points, only three points behind Najaf FC, with 14 wins, five draws, and five losses.[77]

In the 2009–10 Iraqi Premier League, under the management of Radhi Shenaishil, Al-Talaba finished as the leaders of Group B in the first stage with 68 points, having won 19 matches, drew 11, and lost four. They withdrew in the twelfth round due to a ruling from the Iraqi Olympic Committee where they were set to face Baghdad that awarded the win. In the elite stage, Al-Talaba ended up in second place of Group One as the best runners-up of the three groups where they had ten points, the same amount of points as the first place, Al-Zawra'a, but they had the goals difference of +2 and Al-Talaba the goals difference of +1. If either Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya had beaten Naft Al-Janoob or Al-Shorta had beaten Najaf FC, Al-Talaba would not have qualified for the semi-finals, but Jawiya drew 0–0 and Al-Shorta drew 2–2. In the semi-finals, Al-Talaba won 1–0 to Erbil in the first leg and drew with no goals in the second leg. They lost in the final to Duhok SC with a late goal in the 82nd minute.[78]

With Yahya Alwan as their manager, Al-Talaba had one of the worst seasons in their history in the 2010–11 Iraqi Premier League, finishing the season in eighth place of the Southern group with 38 points, only one point away from relegation, with nine wins, eleven draws, and six losses.[79] In the 2011 AFC Cup, Al-Talaba finished in third place in their group with five points, having won one match, drew two, and lost three, therefore they were knocked out at the group stage.[80] In the 2011–12 Iraqi Premier League, Al-Talaba with Jamal Ali, Khalaf Hassan, and Karim Salman as their consecutive managers, finished the season in fourth place with 68 points, winning in 19 matches, drawing in 11, and losing in eight.[81]

In the 2012–13 Iraqi Premier League, under the management of Nazar Ashraf, Al-Talaba returned to their poor performance of the 2010–11 season, finishing in the 14th place with 35 points, only one point away from relegation, with only nine wins, eight draws, and 17 losses. They saved the club from being relegated in the 33rd round against Al-Naft where they won 2–1 and also because of Al-Kahraba's loss to Zakho in the last round. Al-Talaba passed the round of 32 of the 2012–13 Iraq FA Cup where they were up against Al-Zawra'a, drawing 0–0 in the first leg and winning 3–1 in the second leg before it was abandoned.[82]

Recent history (2013–)

Al-Talaba finished the 2013–14 Iraqi Premier League, under the management of Abdul-Wahab Abu Al-Hail, in eighth place with 31 points from 22 matches.[83] The season after, Al-Talaba finished in fifth place of Group Two with four wins, five draws, and seven losses before Abu Al-Hail was sacked.[84] In that season, they also participated in a friendly cup, the 2015 Baghdad Cup, which was played between the big four clubs of Baghdad. The mini-tournament started at the semi-final stage and each match was only 30 minutes long. Al-Talaba were knocked out in the semi-final by Al-Zawra'a, 4–2 on penalties after a 0–0 draw.[85]

In June 2015, the board signed Ayoub Odisho as the team's new manager, 18 years after he first held the post in 1998.[86] The team also signed Younis Mahmoud, an Al-Talaba Hall of Famer and the captain of the Iraq national team, twelve years after he left the club in 2004, with a free contract to get ready for the 2015–16 season.[87] The team finished the group stage in fourth place of Group One with 27 points with seven wins, six draws and four losses, getting qualified to the final stage,[88] where they finished in third place with three wins, three draws and a loss.[89]


Main article: Al Talaba Stadium

In the 1980s, a stadium to hold 8,000 spectators was built at Hai Al-Qahira in Baghdad to host Al-Talaba's home matches.[1] Al-Talaba currently hold their training sessions at the University of Baghdad Stadium in Jadraya, Baghdad, 15 km away from their main stadium.[90]

In early 2014, the owner of the club, the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research gave the project of building a new sports city to the Spanish company TriArena. They are constructing a main football stadium with a capacity of 16,000 spectators and an area of 71,150 m². The project also includes two tennis courts, a basketball court, a volleyball court, a fustal pitch, a handball court, a hotel, restaurants, and a covered swimming pool. Al-Talaba is defined as a sports club, not just a football one, and it has supported other sports at minor level only in the past.[91] The foundation stone was laid by the former minister of higher education and scientific research, Ali al-Adeeb, in February 2014. The cost of the project is estimated to be $84 million and the duration of construction was expected to be 30 months, meaning that by 2017 the Al-Talaba Sports City should be open.[92] Due to the financial crisis in Iraq, the project was scratched after spending $4 million on designs.[93]


Al-Talaba is one of the four "Popular Teams" in Baghdad, the others being Al-Zawra'a, Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya and Al-Shorta.[94] All the four Popular Teams have rivalries with each other. Al-Talaba's arch rivals are Al-Zawra'a and Al-Quwa Al-Jawiya because of their constant battles to win the Iraqi Premier League over the years.[95][96]


Recent seasons

The season-by-season performance of the club over the recent years:[97]

Season League Rank P W D L F A GD Pts Cup
2000–01 Iraqi Elite League 4 30 17 9 4 42 21 21 60
2001–02 Iraqi Elite League 1 38 29 4 5 89 18 71 91 Won
2002–03 Iraqi First Division League 2 19 15 1 3 46 12 34 46 Won
2003–04(1) Iraqi Premier League 3 – Group 3 2 2 0 0 5 1 4 6
2004–05 Iraqi Premier League Third place 23 11 7 5 32 17 15 40
2005–06 Iraqi Premier League 2 – Group 4 16 9 4 3 29 11 18 31
2006–07 Iraqi Premier League Fourth place 15 5 6 4 11 11 0 21
2007–08 Iraqi Premier League 3 – Group 2 30 10 13 7 29 24 5 43
2008–09 Iraqi Premier League 3 – Group 2 24 14 5 5 32 15 17 47
2009–10 Iraqi Premier League Runners-up 43 23 13 7 53 25 28 82
2010–11 Iraqi Premier League 8 – Group B 26 9 11 6 33 25 8 38
2011–12 Iraqi Premier League 4 38 19 11 8 45 29 16 68
2012–13 Iraqi Premier League 14 34 9 8 17 35 47 −12 35 R16(2)
2013–14 Iraqi Premier League 8 22 9 4 9 28 30 −2 31
2014–15 Iraqi Premier League 5 – Group 2 16 4 5 7 18 18 0 17
2015–16 Iraqi Premier League 3 24 10 9 5 28 20 8 39 Withdrew

As of 21 May 2016. Rank = Rank in the league; P = Played; W = Win; D = Draw; L = Loss; F = Goals for; A = Goals against; GD = Goal difference; Pts = Points; Cup = Iraq FA Cup.
in = Still in competition; — = Not attended; 1R = 1st round; 2R = 2nd round; 3R = 3rd round; R16 = Round of sixteen; QF = Quarterfinals; SF = Semifinals.

1 The season was not finished.
2 Al-Talaba reached the round of 16 of the 2012–13 Iraq FA Cup, but the tournament ended up being abandoned.

In international competitions

As of 10 May 2011:

Competition Record
G W D L Win %
AFC Champions League 9 4 1 4 44.44
Asian Cup Winners' Cup 18 8 5 5 44.44
AFC Cup 6 1 2 3 16.67
Arab Champions League 18 7 4 7 38.89
Total 51 20 12 19 39.22


Current squad

As of 31 August 2016[98]

Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.

No. Position Player
3 Iraq DF Saad Jassim
4 Iraq DF Muhannad Arzeej
6 Iraq MF Mohammed Faisal
7 Iraq MF Karrar Ali Barri
8 Iraq MF Samer Saeed (3rd captain)
9 Iraq FW Younis Mahmoud (captain)
10 Iraq MF Mustafa Al-Ameen
14 Iraq DF Abbas Ayyad
15 Iraq DF Burhan Juma'a
16 Iraq FW Yassir Abdul-Mohsen
17 Iraq MF Ehab Kadhim
18 Iraq MF Mahdi Karim (2nd captain)
20 Iraq MF Muthana Khalid
23 Iraq GK Muhannad Jabbar
24 Iraq MF Mohammed Ridha
25 Iraq MF Sattar Yaseen
30 Ivory Coast FW Abou Kone
34 Senegal DF Fallou Sarr
No. Position Player
35 Iraq GK Ali Abdul-Hassan
37 Iraq MF Mustafa Mohammed
39 Iraq DF Ahmed Nadhim
Iraq GK Karrar Mahmoud
Iraq DF Ahmed Khalid
Iraq DF Samir Salman
Iraq DF Haider Saadoun
Iraq MF Ahmad Fadhel
Iraq MF Samir Majid
Iraq MF Karrar Nabeel
Iraq MF Omar Adnan
Iraq MF Hassan Jassim
Iraq FW Ahmed Abdul-Abbas
Iraq FW Ibrahim Bayish
Nigeria FW Kabiru Akinsola

Notable past players

The players below are in the Al-Talaba Hall of Fame:[99]

# No. Player Pos. Al-Talaba Career
1 10 Hussein Saeed Forward 1975–1990
2 9 Younis Mahmoud Forward 2001–2004, 2015–2016
3 10 Alaa Kadhim Forward 1990–1993, 1997–2007
4 8 Habib Jafar Midfielder 1983–1985, 1991–1993, 2000–2003
5 25 Abdul-Wahab Abu Al-Hail Midfielder 1992–1999, 2010–2013
6 17 Jamal Ali Midfielder 1975–1987


This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.
Years Position Captain
−1976 Midfielder Iraq Abdul-Wahab Abdul-Qadir
1976–1977 Defender Iraq Jalal Salih
1977–1981 Goalkeeper Iraq Muthanna Hameed
1981–1987 Midfielder Iraq Jamal Ali
1987–1990 Forward Iraq Hussein Saeed
1995–1997 Defender Iraq Karim Salman
1997–2000 Forward Iraq Alaa Kadhim
2000–2003 Midfielder Iraq Habib Jafar
2003–2007 Forward Iraq Alaa Kadhim
2007–2008 Defender Iraq Ahmed Abdul-Majeed
2008–2009 Defender Iraq Bassim Abbas
2009–2010 Midfielder Iraq Gaith Abdul-Ghani
2010–2011 Midfielder Iraq Abdul-Wahab Abu Al-Hail
2011–2012 Defender Iraq Majeed Hameed
2012–2014 Goalkeeper Iraq Ali Mutashar
2014–2015 Midfielder Iraq Osama Ali
2015 Midfielder Iraq Salih Sadir
2015–2016 Forward Iraq Younis Mahmoud


Current technical staff

Position Staff
First team manager Ayoub Odisho
Assistant manager Hassan Turki
Sadiq Saadoun
Shaker Mahmoud
Goalkeeping coach Hisham Ali

Last updated: 15 July 2016
Source: Facebook – ALTalaba Sport Club

Managerial history

Dates Name[100]
1969–1974 Iraq Thamir Muhsin
1974–1978 Iraq Jamal Salih
1978–1979 Iraq Abdul Wahab Abdul Qadir
1979–1980 Iraq Khalaf Hassan
1980–1981 Iraq Ammo Baba
1981–1982 Iraq Jamal Salih
1982–1984 Iraq Akram Salman
1984–1986 Iraq Yahya Alwan
1986 Iraq Ahmed Subhi
Iraq Yahya Alwan
1986–1987 Iraq Jamal Salih
1987–1988 Iraq Yousif Abdul-Ameer
1988–1990 Iraq Jamal Ali
1990 Italy Eddie Firmani
1990–1992 Iraq Yahya Alwan
1992–1993 Iraq Ayoub Odisho
1993 Iraq Hussein Saeed
1993–1995 Iraq Ayoub Odisho
1995 Iraq Nazar Ashraf
1995–1996 Iraq Jamal Ali
1996 Iraq Ayoub Odisho
1996–1997 Iraq Nazar Ashraf
1997–1998 Iraq Ayoub Odisho
1998–1999 Iraq Akram Salman
Dates Name Ref
1999 Iraq Abdelilah Mohammed [100]
Iraq Ammo Baba
1999–2000 Iraq Ameer Jamil
2000 Iraq Nazar Ashraf
Iraq Mohammed Tabra
2000–2001 Iraq Anwar Jassim
2001 Iraq Nazar Ashraf
2001–2007 Iraq Thair Ahmed
2007 Iraq Habib Jafar [101]
2007–2008 Iraq Karim Saddam [100]
2008 Iraq Nabil Zaki [102]
Iraq Karim Salman [100]
2008–2009 Iraq Abdul Ghani Shahad [103]
2009–2010 Iraq Radhi Shenaishil [104]
2010–2011 Iraq Yahya Alwan [105]
2011 Iraq Thair Ahmed [106]
2011–2012 Iraq Jamal Ali [107]
2012 Iraq Khalaf Hassan [108]
Iraq Karim Salman [109]
2012–2013 Iraq Nazar Ashraf [110]
2013 Iraq Nabil Zaki [111]
2013–2015 Iraq Abdul-Wahab Abu Al-Hail [112]
2015 Iraq Salih Radhi [113]
2015– Iraq Ayoub Odisho [86]

Current board

Office Name
President Alaa Kadhim
Vice-president Mohammed Al-Hashimi
Secretary Khalid Hadi
Members of the administrative board Mahdi Kadhim
Abdul Ghafour Abd al-Hafith
Khuloud Abdul Wahab
Abdul Jaleel Salih

Recent presidents

This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.
Years Name Elections Notes
1990s–2000s Omar Sabaawi
–2004 Abdul-Salam Al-Guood
2004–2006 Hadeeb Majhoul 2004 [n 1]
2006–2008 Alaa Kadhim [n 2]
2008–2016 Alaa Kadhim 2008, 2012
  1. He was kidnapped and assassinated.
  2. Acting president until the elections.





  • Tishreen Cup
    • Runners-up (1): 2004
  • Al-Quds International Championship
    • Runners-up (1): 2000


AFC Club Ranking (2011–2014)

As of 1 November 2014[114]
Rank Club Points
110 Oman Al-Oruba 8.26
111 India Dempo 7.91
112 Iraq Al-Talaba 7.88
113 Lebanon Nejmeh 7.71
114 Malaysia Terengganu 7.53

CWR All-Time Club World Ranking

As of 4 July 2015[115]
Rank Club Association Points
1140 Bulgaria Vladislav UEFA 28
1142 Trinidad and Tobago W Connection CONCACAF 28
1143 Iraq Al-Talaba AFC 27
1144 Kuwait Al-Arabi AFC 27
1145 Syria Al-Jaish AFC 27

See also


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